Leicester City clinch the Premier League title

Leicester City completed possibly the most unlikely story in the long history of English football by clinching the Premier League title on Monday night.

The 5,000-1 outsiders won the league title for the first time in their 132-year history when Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw with Spurs at Stamford Bridge.

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Eden Hazard’s equaliser in west London sparked a wild party in the streets of Leicester that lasted all night, focussed on the Clock Tower  and the Kng Power Stadium. …

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The first team squad watched the Chelsea v Spurs together, assembling at Jamie Vardy’s Melton home. By the end of the evening, he was, indeed, having a party.

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Enjoy today City fans everywhere, we have waited a long, long time and been through so much. This is beyond our wildest dreams.

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Leicester edge towards title with Old Trafford point

Manchester United 1:1 Leicester City

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City overcame a stuttering start to earn a hard-fought point against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri stuck with the starting XI that beat Swansea so convincingly, but they got off to a nervy start in their quest for a victory that would seal the league title.
City couldn’t get any possession and it was one-way traffic towards Schmeichel’s goal. Rashford had a shot blocked by Huth, before the Red Devils took an 8th minute lead.
Valencia delivered a precise ball from the right that found Martial in space at the far post and his crisply struck low finish went under Schmeichel.
Five minutes later Schmeichel prevented this early setback from becoming a disaster: Fellaini teed up Lingard for a well-struck, low shot which the City keeper did well to get a hand to.
City rallied after this, and delighted their 3,000 strong (plus hundreds in the home areas) following with a 17th minute equaliser.
Drinkwater delivered a free-kick from the right, and Morgan evaded the scrum on the six yard line to nod home past De Gea.

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It was a more even encounter now, with play flying from end to end.
Rooney dragged a shot wide, Schlupp had an effort blocked by Valencia, and then Lingard and Simpson had a race to goal, but pulled each other over before Schmeichel slid in to hoof the ball clear.
City ended the half on top, with De Gea beating away Schlupp’s cross, loud penalty appeals when Rojo crashed into Mahrez, Drinkwater and Morgan both going close and 1-1 at the break was a fair reflection of the game.

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One goal could win City their first ever title, and they pressed forward.
Morgan sent a header straight at De Gea, and the energetic Okazaki sent one shot wide and saw another cleared off the line by Martial.
Lingard failed to test Schmeichel with a curling effort, while Ulloa sent a header narrowly over.
There followed a rash of yellow cards, which were to damage City more than United later on, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney and Drinkwater all being booked.
Okazaki overhead shot, on target before it was blocked, was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Gray.
A moment of Mahrez magic then saw him glide past Rojo and Carrick before sending his shot just too close to De Gea.
With Albrighton on for Schlupp for the closing stages City continued to look for the goal that would win the title. Ulloa look very tired as he chested and volleyed an effort at De Gea, he didn’t have any support in the attack as Rooney had pulled Gray over, but the United skipper escaped a second yellow.
Unfortunately Drinkwater wasn’t so lucky in the 87th minute, picking up a harsh second yellow for a very weak challenge on Depay. Fortunately, referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick when what little offence there was occurred on the line.

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Schmeichel got a fist to Rooney’s free-kick and the ten men continued to battle.
In four minutes of time-added-on there was only one truly scary moment – Martial, down the right, was tackled by Fuchs but the ball rolled across the penalty area… the alert Schmeichel beat Mata to it by inches.
City held out until the final whistle, the hard-earned point now reducing Spurs’ margin for error to zero.
Claudio Ranieri revealed that he might not be in the country of the big moment arrives on Monday…  “I’d like to watch the match tomorrow, but I think I’m on a flight back from Italy so it’s difficult for me to watch the match. Maybe I’ll find out when I land.
For us, it was important to show our character, our mentality. The beginning wasn’t good, but after I very appreciate our performance. We suffer all the matches because we know what we are. We know every match we have to work hard.”
That hard work could be rewarded in the most monumental way tonight, depending on the outcome of a game in West London…

United: De Gea, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 75), Lingard (Mata 61), Rashford (Memphis 82), Rooney, Martial. Subs Not Used: Romero, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kante, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Albrighton 77), Mahrez (King 88), Okazaki (Gray 67), Ulloa. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.

Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 75,275.

 

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Fox Subscriptions for 2016/17 now open

If you want every issue of The FOX – The Leicester City fanzine posted out to you on publication day next season wherever you are in the world, then take out a subscription – available from today. 

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Foxes devour Swans to go 8 points clear

Leicester City 4:0 Swansea City

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City took a step closer to the title with a convincing 4-0 victory over Swansea at the KPS on Sunday to go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with just three games to play…

With Vardy suspended, Claudio Ranieri played Ulloa and Okazaki up front , with Schlupp in for Albrighton.
Although Swansea were the first to deliver a ball into the box, it came to nothing, and City were then gifted an 11th minute lead.
Williams’ slightly leisurely clearance struck Mahrez and the Algerian international showed great composure to finish, with Fabianski perhaps expecting a curling effort into the far corner, Mahrez simply fired it in at the near post.
It was the start City needed to calm any nerves, and they never looked back.
With City’s midfield bossing the play, Fuchs and Okazaki both threatened the Swans goal, before City extended their lead on the half hour.
After a battle between Morgan and Routledge out on the left ended with a free-kick to City, Drinkwater delivered a perfect ball into the area for Ulloa to nod home from 6 yards.

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It was tempting to think ‘game over’ at this stage, but Swansea enjoyed their best spell of the game up to half-time.
But of the two free-kicks their pressure gained, one was headed narrowly over by Fernandez and the other, a shot from Sigurdsson, may have been heading for the post when Schmiechel tipped it round. And so City took a precious 2-0 lead in with them at the break.

Swansea had an early chance in the second half when a well-placed Ayew failed to test Schmeichel with a weak header, but it was all over by the hour mark.
Schlupp charged after a Schmeichel clearance down the left, beating two defenders and cutting in on goal. He unselfishly attempted to square to Ulloa, but Williams blocked. However, the ball fell nicely for Schlupp to cross again and Ulloa slid the ball in at the far post, sparking huge celebrations.

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Barring an Ayew header into the side-netting, it was one-way traffic now, with City in irresistible form.
Schlupp forced a fine save from Fabianski and miscued a couple of other efforts.
Okazaki fired a shot over the bar, and then King (on for Ulloa who picked up a knock to his back) tested Fabianski again with a low shot.
City’s fourth goal arrived with five minutes remaining. Gray went on a run down the right, and just kept running. At one point it was almost comedic with four Swansea defenders chasing after him. After cutting in, the youngster chipped a ball to the far, post, King headed it back across goal, but Gray’s first time effort was pushed out by Fabianski… only as far as Albrighton who gleefully rifled it home, having only been on the pitch for three minutes.

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City ended the day eight points clear, knowing that two more wins would seal the club’s first ever title. With every week bringing a new landmark, they now can’t finish outside the top two and, later that evening, Riyad Mahrez was crowned PFA Player of the Season.

Speculation about how City would cope without Vardy had been answered with four goals:
“It was a magnificent performance,” said Claudio. “Without Jamie, everyone else had to give that bit more. It was great to see my players fight. We had some difficulties, but everybody made sure we had a good match. Now it is important for us to make our dreams a reality. Now is the right moment to give everything.”

* Credit where it is due: maybe it was the light and shade effect but referee Mark Clattenburg appeared to come up with the perfect refereeing performance.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Schlupp (Albrighton 82), Mahrez, Okazaki (Gray 73), Ulloa (King 79). Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.
Swansea: Fabianski, Taylor, Williams, Rangel, Fernandez, Britton, Cork, Fer (Paloschi 46), Routledge (Montero 46), Ayew, Sigurdsson (Ki 75). Subs Not Used: Amat, Nordfeldt, Naughton, Barrow.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 31,962.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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Ulloa rescues a point for ten man Leicester

Leicester City 2:2 West Ham United 

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Leonardo Ulloa equalised from the spot against West Ham with seconds remaining of a game wrecked by referee Jon Moss at the KPS on Sunday…

On the back of five straight wins Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged starting line-up, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start.
Schmeichel pulled off a fantastic save, tipping Kouyate’s header against the right hand post. The ball went across the face of the goal and looked sure to be converted by Emenike, before it hit the other post and landed safely in the City keeper’s grasp.

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After this early warning that West Ham hadn’t come to roll over for the league leaders City began to press forward.
Huth got his head to an Albrighton free-kick, but beat the right hand post by a couple of yards, and then Drinkwater fired an effort from range over the bar.
City then took a 19th minute lead after a sweeping upfield move. From a Schmeichel throw Mahrez sent Kanté on a charge down the middle, and he set up Vardy in on the left for a great first touch and cracking shot past Adrian.
Ten minutes after his goal Vardy was booked for a fair challenge on Kouyate, a decision by referee Jon Moss that would have big repercussions.
In an increasingly tight and physical encounter up to the break, Reid, Noble and Payet were all yellow carded.

Slaven Bilić brought Carroll on for the second half, setting up a Clash of the Titans, with Huth performing magnificently in City’s defence.
From a Payet corner Carroll headed well wide, and then at the other end Huth headed a Fuchs cross over.
Schlupp replaced Albrighton in the 54th minute and City came agonisingly close to extending their lead when a cross/shot from Okazaki evaded Vardy by half a yard at the far post.
The game then dramatically turned on a 58th minute incident.
Vardy and Ogbonna chased a ball into the penalty area, with the West Ham defenders hand on his shoulder Vardy appeared to cut across him and went flying.
Referee Moss judged it to be a dive, worthy of a yellow card and City’s leading scorer was dismissed on the strength of an earlier yellow that shouldn’t have happened.

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With the crowd in uproar Ulloa came on for Okazaki and City prepared to dig in and defend the lead.
Reid connected with a Payet cross from the right, but sent his effort into the side-netting. City were defending stoically, but no outlet ball to Vardy was seeing the pressure build. There was a nervy wait after Morgan was booked for fouling Carroll in the perfect spot for a Payet free-kick. After Amartey replaced Mahrez, Payet sent his free-kick sailing into the Family Stand, to general sighs of relief.
But under relentless West Ham pressure City finally cracked with five minutes remaining.
After constant wrestling matches in both areas referee Moss decided to award a soft one for Morgan putting his arms around Reid, no doubt influenced by a deputation of West Ham players urging him to be vigilant before the ball was even delivered.
Carroll sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his spot-kick, the first goal City had conceded since March 1st.
Like buses, the next one arrived two minutes later and this time there were no arguments as Cresswell latched onto a half clearance on the edge of the area and fired a magnificent shot inches under the bar.
City might have forgotten what it was like to go behind in a game, but they reacted well and, combined with another bizarre decision by the ref, managed to rescue a point.
Into time-added-on Huth was wrestled over by Ogbonna in a similar manner to incident that led to Morgan conceding a penalty, but Moss didn’t want to know, leading to prolonged chants of: “2-1, to the referee.”  

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Minutes later a challenge that looked a lot less like a penalty, as Schlupp and Carroll came together right on the edge of the area, saw Moss pointing to the spot.
With Mahrez and Vardy both absent, Ulloa stepped up to fire his spot-kick past Adrian sparking emotional scenes around the KPS.
Referee Moss was resoundingly booed off as his escort from the pitch had to avoid angry players from both sides, but Claudio Ranieri would not be drawn to comment: “I judge my players and not the referee. The referee watched this, it’s OK. If some players don’t play well or make mistakes, I speak with them and we try to improve their performance. The referee is not my matter.”
After a very tough afternoon City emerged 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with four games remaining. All eyes will now be on Stoke v Spurs tonight.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Mahrez (Amartey 78), Albrighton (Schlupp 54), Okazaki (Ulloa 59), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, King, Gray.
West Ham: Adrian, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Obiang (Carroll 46), Noble (Lanzini 63), Kouyate, Emenike, Payet, Moses (Valencia 72), Antonio. Subs Not Used: Randolph, Tomkins, Collins, Byram.

Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 32,104.

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Vardy double moves Leicester a step closer

Sunderland 0:2 Leicester City

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Jamie Vardy’s 20th and 21st Premier League goals of the season saw City seal victory late on at Sunderland on Saturday, temporarily extending their lead to 10 points…

Claudio Ranieri, newly crowned Manager of the Month for March, named an unchanged starting line-up against a Sunderland side desperately in need of the points.
And City enjoyed a good opening spell, with Okazaki, Kanté and Morgan all threatening Mannone’s goal. Morgan looked to have repeated last week’s goal, but sent his header inches wide of the far post.
A series of misplaced passes then allowed Sunderland back in and got the home crowd fired up, but City were looking solid at the back, and in no mood to concede a first goal in over a month.
There were loud penalty appeals when Okazaki was brought down by a chest-high Yedlin boot, but the ref waved play on, and then Drinkwater fired a volley wide soon after.
Kaboul sent a header inches over the bar for the home side, while Vardy miscued a shot from the edge of the area.
Mahrez, who’d had a subdued half, then made room for himself on the edge of the area, but his attempted curler into the top corner was blocked.
Sunderland had the final chance of the half when Schmeichel did well to block a Borini shot that took a deflection off Morgan.

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Sunderland’s desperation was showing in their finishing, with several shots flying high and wide and Borini actually managing to hit one shot into his own face.
Drinkwater forced a couple of saves from Mannone as he pushed forward, and was then the architect of City’s priceless opening goal.
In the 67th minute the England midfielder won a challenge and then sent a perfect ball behind the Sunderland defence. Vardy won the race down the left with Kaboul, took a neat touch and placed a fine finish past Mannone.
Vardy became the first City player since Gary Lineker in the 1984-85 season to score 20 goals in the top flight.

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Although there was a scare when Rodwell sent a shot over from close in following a good Sunderland move, it was Mannone who was the busier keeper.
He saved from substitute Ulloa’s angled drive and then managed to get a hand to a low Vardy shot after a fantastic passing sequence down the right.
The Sunderland keeper then prevented another sub strike, beating away  Amartey’s fierce effort in time-added-on.
But it was Vardy who would have the final say when he found the energy for one more run down the middle when all around him were flagging. He got to the ball just ahead of Mannone, took it round him and stroked the ball into an empty net to dispel the tension in the away and end and get the party started.

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Another difficult hurdle had been cleared, and until Spurs win over Manchester United City stood 10 points clear. Claudio Ranieri left the field in tears, perhaps betraying his emotions for the first time, while the Leicester support staged another: “We’re going to win the League!” sing-in, long after the rest of the ground had emptied.

Ranieri was still sticking rightly to his focus on the next game mantra, but had an emotional afternoon: “It is fantastic when you see before the match, an old lady with a Leicester shirt outside the stadium. I say: ‘Unbelievable. They come from Leicester to support us.’ This is my emotion. It is fantastic. I was on the bus. I saw them, unbelievable, and I want to say thank you for the support. They are dreaming and we want to continue to dream.”

Manchester United’s defeat at Spurs later in the day may have kept Tottenham in the title race, but also confirmed City’s Champions League place next season… unbelievable, Jeff.

Sunderland: Mannone, Van Aanholt, Kaboul, Yedlin, Kone, Kirchoff, Cattermole, M’Vila (Rodwell 68), Khazri (N’Doye 68), Borini (Lens 76), Defoe. Subs Not Used: Pickford, Hones, Larsson, O’Shea.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kanté, Drinkwater, Albrighton (Amartey 84), Mahrez (Gray 80), Okazaki (Ulloa 62), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Dyer, King.

Referee: Anthony Taylor. Attendance: 46,531.

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Leicester edge out Saints and take a 7 point lead

Leicester City 1:0 Southampton

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Wes Morgan’s first goal of the season was enough to settle a close encounter with Southampton at the KPS on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged side for this game in front of another sell-out crowd enjoying beer and doughnuts on owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, to celebrate his birthday.
City, attacking the Kop end in a rare switch round, got off to a strong start. Fuchs sent in a header wide of the target; Fonte blocked Okazaki’s attempted ‘England Vardy’ flick at the near post; and Soares got in the way of Morgan’s shot following a corner.
The Saints then began to get a grip of proceedings and forced City onto the back foot for a spell.
Soares’s cross from the right flank found Pelle’s head, but his effort went inches over the bar.
Pelle then sent Mane clear on goal with a ball down the middle. As the Saints striker rounded Schmeichel, Simpson’s unrelenting pursuit paid dividends as he blocked the shot with an unintentional elbow.
Fonte forced a fine save soon after with a shot that was heading for the top right hand corner until the Danish keeper clawed it away.
Clasie shot from long range, which flew a yard over the bar, proved to be the end of the visitor’s period of dominance, as City took a 38th minute lead.

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Kanté, Drinkwater and Fuchs combined on the left and the Austrian swung a cross into the area  that Morgan rose to head in off the left hand post, giving Forster no chance.
It was the captain’s first goal of the season and it had the KPS rocking on its hinges.
The final chance of the half fell to Albrighton, but his shot struck Vardy and City had to be content with a 1-0 lead at the break.

Wanyama was lucky not to see red in the first incident of the second half when Vardy looked to break through on goal but was hauled down by the Saints midfielder, who was only booked.
Fonte was the next Southampton player to look relieved when his attempted clearance went horribly wrong and was heading for the top left hand corner before Forster scrambled back to tip it over.

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Bertrand capped a good run down the left with a shot into the side netting, before Forster came to the Saints rescue again. An excellent backheel on the left sent Vardy in behind the defence. He picked out Simpson arriving at the far post, but the full-back’s shot was placed too close to Forster, allowing him to make a fine block.
There were shouts for a penalty when newly introduced sub Austin saw his cross handled by Huth, but it was hard to see how he could avoid contact from a yard away.
A couple of shots from range saw Mahrez failing to test Forster while Drinkwater’s effort was off target.
Ulloa, on for Okazaki, then delayed his shot after being well set up by the marauding Kanté and his threat was snuffed out.
As the game entered the last ten minutes, City became less intent on finding a second goal and began to concentrate on possession.

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Subs Gray and Ulloa proved to be good at this, killing the game off in the corner and denying the Saints a chance to build up any attacking momentum.
The last chance fell to Vardy, who had lived off scraps throughout the game, but Forster denied him with an outstretched leg to cap a fine afternoon between the posts.
As the game entered the 5th minute of time added on Southampton were awarded a free kick from a dangerous position on the right, but it was dealt with by City’s defence in the same way as everything else. It was a day when the defence took the plaudits, as City battled to their fourth 1-0 in a row.
The final whistle finally broke the tension and saw City seven points clear of Tottenham with six games remaining.

Despite some joyous scenes at the end, Claudio Ranieri continued to keep expectations on a lead: “It was important to win because it’s a good answer to the Premier League. Now everybody was waiting for us after the draw between Tottenham and Liverpool and we gave a very good answer. We believe in what we are doing. We believe it’s a magical season and we believe next season it will not be the same. We try to do our best and if another team is better than us, we have to fight.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (Dyer 90), Mahrez (Gray 79), Okazaki (Ulloa 63) Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Amartey, Wasilewski, King.
Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Targett (Tadic 46), Fonte, Van Dijk, Soares, Davis (Ward-Prowse 72), Clasie (Austin 72), Wanyama, Mane, Pelle. Subs Not Used: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Romeu, Rodriguez.

Referee: M Oliver Attendance: 32,071.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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